Ten years of spreading spirituality

TNN, November 2, 2009

NAGPUR, India -- Nagpur and Vidarbha have had a definitive legacy of Buddhism and neo-Buddhist movement. A new leaf was added to this legacy in the form of Dragon Palace Temple in Kamptee.

On Monday, that landmark celebrates a decade of its existence. A special prayer meeting and a religious discourse have been planned at the venue to mark the occasion.

Established on the full moon day in the month of Kartik ten years ago, which happened to fall in the month of November in 1999 as well, the temple is considered by many to be as significant to Buddhist devotees as Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur. Not only it is now a must-see place for visitors to Nagpur but is frequented by people from many other oriental countries as well.

The Mykoi San Ryngu, as the Dragon Palace Temple is also called, was founded by Noriko Ogawa, also known as Mother Ogawa, in the city of Kamptee. There is, in fact, an interesting lore behind why Kamptee was chosen as the site for the temple and behind its nomenclature, according to Sulekha Kumbhare, a former municipal chief of Kamptee and a former Maharashtra minister, who is an active participant in running the temple.

According to literature published at the time of the palace's inauguration, Mother Ogawa, on first meeting Kumbhare, felt that she was like one of the characters sent on the path of Nirvana by one of the Bodhisatwas. Lord Buddha is believed to have been born many times before being incarnated as the Enlightened One, and each of these previous incarnations is a Bodhisatwa.

It was one Bodhisatwa, mentioned in a chapter of the Lotus Sutra, who preached Buddhism at the palace of the Dragon King Shagara. Among those who became his devotees was the Dragon King's eight-year-old daughter, who apparently attained Nirvana faster than others, before making the journey to the Spotless World in the south to spread the good word. Ogawa reportedly felt that Kamptee was the Spotless World of the south that had been described in ancient texts.

As for the building itself, it is situated in the lap of nature, and one has to go through a beautifully constructed faƧade to reach the temple. The statue of Lord Buddha situated in the temple has been carved out of a single block of sandalwood, and is said to weigh around 864 kilograms!